Buying a Used Wood Stove
One indicator of a down economy is a renewed interest in used and refurbished appliances and the wood stove industry is experiencing an unprecedented interest in wood stove parts.
Many stove parts are simply no longer available as the manufacturer may have ceased operations or discontinued supporting their older non-UL, non EPA certified models. Buying a used stove that may need replacement parts should always be researched before the purchase.
Buying and attempting to replace a single warped or distorted cast part on a stove often fails as the adjacent components will not support or accommodate the new part as these parts may also be somewhat distorted. What was thought to be a simple repair becomes an expensive rebuild or a total waste of time and money.
Cast iron is not easily repaired. Welding and cementing cracks in cast iron is a very short term fix. The damaged cast plate requires replacement. Hairline cracks in cast iron mostly are revealed only after the stove is heated and the metal has expanded. This can make buying a used stove as difficult as purchasing a used car if one does not know what to look for.
Safety rules and codes regarding the installation of non UL tested stoves are more difficult to accommodate. Non UL stoves usually require a 36” clearance to combustible surfaces as most local codes require that the installation follow NFPA #211 standards. A good resource for these non UL wood stove installations can be found at http://www.maine.gov/dps/fmo/documents/2005Woodburningguide_001.pdf
New stoves are installed to their own tested and listed clearances (often 6” to 12” vs. 36”) when installed with tested and approved clearance reduction shields (stove shields) and specified venting.
Consider that all woodstoves have limited life span when used as a heating appliance. How hard the stove is used will directly influence how long it can be used safely. Like the automobile, only the wood stoves that are use infrequently or very gently will become the cherished antiques of tomorrow or are still functional today. The rest are destined to be recycled and replaced.
And like the modern automobile, the new wood stoves of today offer greater safety and new EPA woodstoves are more than 3 times more efficient and 90% cleaner burning than the stoves of the 70’s and early 80’s.